Starring: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner
Directed by: Chris Weitz (“The Golden Compass”)
Written by: Melissa Rosenberg (“Twilight”)

It would be easy enough to dismiss “New Moon,” the latest vampire romance of the newly dubbed “Twilight Saga,” as easily digestible hokum, but you have to at least give author Stephenie Meyer credit for finding a niche in the horror genre no one else imagined. Whether or not you’re a fan of skinny pale vampires with waxed hair, Meyer has created a brand name that has impacted pop culture tremendously over the last four years.

But as millions of twihards swarm into theaters donning their “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob” tees, most if not all go in with terrible cases of tunnel vision. Find someone with an unhealthy obsession for the “Twilight Saga” and you’ll find a devoted fan no matter how deficient the movie actually is. For anyone with a more discerning eye, it’s much easier to pinpoint all the flaws that make “New Moon” an average gothic fairy tale aimed at girly-girls not old enough to watch “True Blood” yet.

In “New Moon,” Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is starting her senior year in high school and still dating Edward Cullen (Rob Pattinson), the hottest blood-sucker on campus. As their relationship continues to develop, Bella can’t stop thinking of the impending future that awaits them. Someday Bella will be an old woman while the immortal Edward will forever be the hunky vampire she fell in love with.

The only solution Bella has is for Edward to turn her into a vampire so they can be together for eternity (talk about commitment!). Edward, however, isn’t enthusiastic on the idea of turning his lady love into a monster. After an unfortunate paper cut incident at Bella’s birthday party (a subtle tribute to Bela Lugosi’s “Dracula” most twihards won’t notice), the sullen Cullen decides that Bella would be much safer if he and his family left Forks, Washington never to return.

Waiting in the wings to comfort Bella during her montage of depression is the always shirtless Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), a Native American tween who Bella turns to once Edward is gone. The love triangle becomes more complex when Bella finds out Jacob has been hiding a secret from her the entire time they’ve spent together – he’s a werewolf…and he hates vampires.

It all sounds kind of silly reading it as it probably did for Meyer when she wrote it and when screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg adapted it. The script is definitely not one of the finer features of “New Moon.” Like it predecessor, the stale dialogue spewed out by the leads can’t be ignored. When Edward tells Bella “you give me everything just by breathing,” you’ll wonder who else in the world other than Pattinson could get away with delivering such a tacky one-liner to a girl without getting laughed at.

Besides the questionable choices in romanticism, Rosenberg places entirely too much emphasis on things we already know. Edward and Bella are star-crossed lovers, so why reference “Romeo and Juliet” again and again? While it’s in Meyers’ original text, it’s a cliché choice to have included in a film already inundated with enough hamminess to fill the next two films in the series 10 times over.

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